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Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  5,967 ratings  ·  774 reviews

The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by HarperBusiness
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  5,967 ratings  ·  774 reviews

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Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is basically rich people who play frugal and profit off of it. When you bring in 4k+ per month in rental income plus income from a 250k+ job, you are not middle class. I think the message of living within your means is important, but there's a difference between people who struggle to get by and the Frugalwoods. ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
One of the most frustrating personal finance books I've ever read - and I generally love learning about people's approaches to money. Somehow manages to be condescending, deceptive, and self-congratulatory all at once. They're not retired; he works from their rural home and she's a part-time blogger/SAHM. His job apparently pays him over $200,000 a year, which makes any lack of haircuts and restaurant meals pretty small changes in the scheme of things. Wouldn't have bothered me so much if she di ...more
4 stars!

Meet the Frugalwoods is a book I’ve been looking forward to. About 2 years ago, a friend on Facebook who runs a group about finances recommend a blog in her group- The Frugalwoods ( for anyone interested). I read a ton of their blog posts and got some fantastic finance tips. There were certain things I was never going to do, give up makeup, buying books, clothes ban etc, but I did participate in several no spend months and was able to cut my grocery bill pretty low a
Aug 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
They had excellent jobs, made good money, saved every cent, and wrote a book about it. I have saved you three hours of reading about the world's dullest couple. ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I have a lot of nit-picky criticisms of the book. (It barely escapes my dreaded "millennial special snowflake" tag. ;-) And yet, I find the Thames' story extremely inspirational. In fact, while listening to an interview of the author on a podcast, I came up with a scheme to change our living situation drastically--hopefully for the better-- and save a ton of money.

So, I rolled my eyes reading her section on parenting (children don't need things! they just need your time! . . . easy for someone w
Aug 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To her credit the author does start with the disclaimer that this book was written by middle class white people living in a First world country. But by god I've never met a more removed from reality and preachy woman as this author. For whom frugality is a bid to purchase success (her limited way of saying happiness).

From $300 hair cuts, $40 artisan cheese, $500 per month bubbly water and $300 per month hot yoga this woman and her husband have NO CONCEPT OF FRUGALITY. Its a joke - reading this
Hector Ibarraran
Before reading this book, understand that you are going to be reading a memoir, not a step by step guide to frugality. Also, this book will challenge your notions about what it means to live reasonably, and comfortably. Personally, I loved the whole thing, and will probably will start looking at my own consumeristic tendencies, because even if I never get to the author’s level, adding a bit of frugality to my life will not hurt.

Some people have criticized this book for using a literary voice fo
Jos M
Dec 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Man, this was a hate-read. I am not sure why I finished this --spite maybe, and hating on something this bad is too easy, and so many others have done so much better than I could. Like, if you want to go live on a hobby farm more power to you. If you want to live solely for that future goal, and burn all current life events on the altar of frugality, again, more power to you. But the idea that this represents an achievable goal for other people is just laughable:

a) To be fair, Thames is quick to
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really enjoy the author’s blog and have incorporated a lot of her ideas into my own life. So, I was excited to read her book. For some reason I thought it would be more of a lifestyle book. Maybe some frugal living ideas, recipes, etc.

The book was ok at best. I felt like she came across as unintentionally preachy, without a true understanding of how the majority of our country lives. She continually said that she knows how privileged she is to be able to make these choices, and then goes on t
I feel sorry for Nate for marrying a dimwitted, narcissistic, spastic, selfish, privileged prima donna. This book is so ridiculous. You can tell Thames got a creative writing degree from the overwrought and burdened writing that uses Faulkner levels of imagery for no reason. This girl is a hot mess from her obsession with marriage to relationship ultimatums not to mention her complete ignorance of personal finance. Clearly her parents failed her. After reading the book one wonders why anyone wou ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointingly this book is a scam but luckily I frugally borrowed this book from my library and not a cent of my money went towards funding the Frugalwood’s fortune. Unfortunately I can’t get back the time I lost to this book.

Throughout this whole book I couldn’t shake the notion that something just wasn’t right. The numbers don’t add up, how can a couple (with ‘average’ income) save up enough money in 3 years to buy 60 plus acres of woodland with a nice house in Vermont and still have money i
Lori L
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book was well written as far as the prose are concerned, with several anecdotes that had me laughing out loud. Unlike some other reviewers, I enjoyed her word choice. But, the whole premise that this couple has achieved financial independence while both still work is a contradiction in terms in my view and diminishes the book's premise. I get that the author stipulated that FI is definitional, but come on: your husband works full time and you supplement with blog/book money.

I also
I really wanted to like this more- part of me loved it and part of me hated it. The part of me that loved it is the part of me who (not so) secretly dreams about financial independence, working from home part time, and owning a homestead. That said, this book is going to be very unrelatable to most of it's audience. Not only do the "Frugalwoods" have a very real amount of privilege as upper middle class, heterosexual (married), educated, white folks- they had essentially no debt. Namely, no stud ...more
Nov 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Utterly putrid. This woman is awful. It seemed like it might be OK when she starts off talking about how privileged she (obviously!!!!) is but in all honestly, after reading the book, that seems more like her way of attempting to shut people up with have real issues with her myopic view of the world, community and money.

She essentially strong-armed her now husband into proposing (at a very young age but perhaps that's just more American than I can understand) which squicks me out so badly. She
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My husband bought me this book to get me excited about financial independence, and it worked! This book is full of good personal finance information without being dry and number-filled, and really reads like a novel. Thames is a good writer: concise, honest, thorough, and full of funny similes. My husband and I are already pretty frugal, but Thames opened up my eyes to additional opportunities to be frugal and I can’t wait to apply it to our budget! Plus, her book isn’t really about money, it’s ...more
Janna Dorman
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I've read the Frugalwoods blog for about a year and a half, which details the frugal lifestyle of Elizabeth Willard Thames, her husband, and her daughter. The blog mostly consists of money-saving techniques so I expected a book by Thames to be much of the same. I was pleasantly surprised that this was more memoir style and told the story behind Thames' ability to become financially independent at age 32. Thames is a talented writer and her story was really interesting! I also appreciated how ful ...more
Liz T
Apr 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretentious much? Aside from a not long enough section on investing, this book was one long “look at me and how great I am at self-imposed and self-defined frugal living, what a privilege it is that I can make the choice to forego artisanal cheese, lattes and haircuts.” Meanwhile there’s a whole swath of people out here living a frugal existence by circumstance, not by choice because they are just so over consumerism. I’d have rather read the account of one of those brave folks than the smug mus ...more
Margaret Sullivan
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This would have been a lot more useful to me thirty years ago. :) But then, thirty years ago I was living paycheck to paycheck and could barely pay my way, let alone save money. I was frugal by necessity.

And as I've gotten older, I stopped caring about material things very much. I don't know if that's just a function of getting older or what.

In any event, I did get some inspiration from the book. I can certainly pare back my expenses, and having a goal for saving is important.
Well, this was interesting. According to this book, I'm already a little frugal. This author basically summarized why she and her husband didn't want the traditional 9-5 jobs, wanted financial independence, and how they achieved that. The problem is that their ideal life is living in rural Vermont and working from home. Now, my ideal life of living with financial freedom would be living in a tropical area that is not prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, etc, and working online. I do not see that ha ...more
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got this book from the library. I'm middle class as hell and live in the country, shop sales, reuse stuff, thrift, DIY, drive a hybrid, don't have cable, etc. etc. There are reasons why we, as a society, cannot sustain capitalism, and a lot of those are environmental. There are reasons why we, as people, have lost community and replaced it with commerce, and those are worth examining, too.

This book tries to be a critique of consumerism, and in that regard I think it has some merits. Lifestyle
Feb 22, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
All My Spoiler Posts and Reviews Can Be Found on My Blog!

I have never heard such whiny, judgmental, holier-than-thou and frankly useless BS. Before reading this I thought it would be an interesting look at a different lifestyle, like watching Tiny House Hunters or reading National Geographic. Boy, was I wrong. This woman is AWFUL.

First of all, the actual "instructional" portion that deals with their "lifestyle change" doesn't start until halfway through the book. The first half is just her
Caiti S
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
More memoir than financial information. I mostly enjoyed their story, although the writing was sort of cheesy and I would have gained more from it if they would have been more transparent about actual finances and numbers. It was much more about their frugal philosophy than concrete advice. Thames is pretty clear in acknowledging they have numerous privileges in life, but I was somewhat frustrated that there wasn't more of an examination of how the systemic inequalities that they themselves perp ...more
Willian Molinari
I'm migrating all my reviews to my blog. If you want to read the full review with my raw notes, check it here:

I follow their blog for a while now and like it a lot, but I didn't have the same feeling as the book.

It was interesting to read that they felt themselves to be privileged when comparing to the rest of the population. Financial independence is not for everyone but frugality can be and that's what they tried to say, IMO.

Many of their personal experi
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The title of the book does not really indicate to me that this is a memoir. It is a well written one, but I was expecting more financial information and frugal tips. None of the things that they did to become financially independent is really that radical or new, unless maybe you are a millennial. Maybe that is the desired audience? Not really someone who has been around the block before. I don’t know why I still read these kinds of books, there really is not anything new- still number one tip i ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book but it’s not realistic and practical for everyone.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a dedicated reader of the author's blog which I have enjoyed reading and following for the last couple of years. I really enjoyed reading this book and hearing the whole backstory and journey from the beginning of when her and her husband were young up until now. It really showed where they had been and what they had gone through to get to where they are.

I really liked the fact that she clearly puts it out there in the beginning of the book that she and her husband are priv
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, autobiography
When I picked up this book at the local library I had never heard of Liz Thames, nor her blog Frugalwoods. I took the book at face value, "achieving financial independence through simple living." That's me, the queen of simple living! So what's not like about this? Well, for me, plenty.
First off, this is Liz's memoir of her (and hubby's) lifestyle. The book has little to do with achieving financial independence. Granted, Liz does provide examples of ways to save money through living a frugal lif
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I preferred the more memoir style this book had and as someone who follows the frugalwoods blog I already knew I enjoyed her writing style.

I appreciated how multiple times the author acknowledges how privileged she and her husband are and how she related that as one of the reasons she was able to become financially independent so early in life. I enjoyed the portion where she talks about how her year in NYC was her almost trying on poverty. I thought it was very hone
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I alternated between frustration and (mild) inspiration for the entirety of this book. The author acknowledges her and her husband's privilege multiple times, and how much of their lifestyle is only possible due to their upbringing. Somehow she still comes off as preachy, self-congratulatory, and removed from reality despite this admission. The frugal life is a choice for them that can be done without stress because their parents paid for college / they had no debt, they were married and living ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book reads like a novel. I follow her blog from time to time but did not know she was so funny. A definite read if you are on this frugal path and want to discover how other people already achieved it.
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Elizabeth Willard Thames is the personal finance blogger behind the award-winning At thirty-two she abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced extreme frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and retire to a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of Vermont with her husband and young daughter. Started in April 2014, Frugalwoods is a respected voice in

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